Artificial grass, Pros and Cons
As a surface, artificial grass is becoming more popular by the year. This is following a growing trend of low maintenance gardens. however , It is still nowhere near as popular as traditional turf.
By knowing a little bit more about how an artificial lawn compares to a real lawn you will be in a better place to make a decision on which one is right for you.
We look at the pros and cons of artificial grass in 8 key areas.
Artificial grass pros and cons comparison table
(best = 5, worst = 1)
Winner: It’s a draw
Appearance is one of the things that held artificial grass back for years. It use to be obvious that it wasn’t the real deal. It had a pretend look that wasn’t popular.
In the last few years artificial grass has become WAY BETTER.
The variety and the quality has grown substantially. It’s now possible to get artificial grass that is very hard to tell apart from a well maintained real lawn. We still don’t think there is anything that looks exactly alike but it’s getting very close.
Artificial grass is supposed to imitate real grass. This is obvious but there is a point to note here: Good artificial grass will imitate a perfect lawn which is actually quite hard to achieve consistently with real turf.
So although a perfect lawn will alway look more real than the best imitation grass you may not be able to keep a lawn looking that perfect. For this reason we think its a tie between the two.
If you have the ability to keep a perfect lawn then the real thing will look better. If not, artificial grass may leave you with a nicer looking garden.
Feel: Artificial Grass underlay
Winner: Artificial grass (if you go with foam underlay)
There are two things to consider when looking at how good artificial grass will feel compared to real grass.
- Feel of the grass itself. We mean the actual blades/strands of grass. Fake grass comes in all types of thickness and texture. Generally speaking you will have to pay more for softer artificial grass because the plastic has to be of higher quality. There are very soft feel fake grass variants available now which we think feel nicer than real grass.
- Sponginess of the grass. This has more to do with the sub base the grass is set on. Artificial grass is most commonly laid on a sand base which means there is some give when you walk on it but it’s no better than the soil base of real grass. A new development has been foam underlay. This means placing a layer of robust foam under your artificial grass. It gets a super soft feel which is fantastic.
Overall we think its a draw unless you opt for foam underlay with your artificial grass.
Winner: Artificial grass
By strength we mean the ability to hold its shape under some wear a tear. Artificial grass is available in super tough varieties which can be matched by real grass. However, tough fake grass is usually rough due to its thicker fibers. A sacrifice some may not want to make.
Generally, artificial grass will stand up to punishment better than real grass. But there is an obvious drawback here. Real grass can heal itself a be repaired in patches. Artificial grass has no such ability. If it’s likely that the grass will get punctured with chair legs or other objects it may be better to go for real grass.
Overall we have to give this one to artificial grass. It’s way more durable.
Winner: Real grass
There is no escaping the fact that artificial grass is made of plastic which is created with processes which release greenhouse gasses. It is then transported from Europe of china by oil fuelled transport. We don’t know how much each square meter pollutes the planet but it’s certainly more than real grass.
There are many ways that real grass helps the environment so choosing artificial grass over real grass will mean a little less help for our planet. Natural grass purifies the air, stores carbon, generates oxygen, purifies groundwater and more. A clear win here for natural grass.
This is the one area that artificial grass may have over the real stuff. In warmer parts of the year real grass needs to be watered. Most of the time this will be from a hose which uses the domestic water supply. Giving us this water uses a huge amount of power and releases the equivalent of 452,401 cars worth of carbon into the atmosphere each year.
Winner: Real grass
Artificial grass can last up to 20 years depending on quality and usage.
Real lawns can last indefinitely if are looked after properly.
Cost to install
Winner: Real grass
Artificial grass is substantially more expensive both to buy and to install. Real grass uses compost and turf which are both very cheap, even to great quality.
Artificial grass needs to be laid on compacted hardcore covered by sharp sand. Its laying process is also more difficult because it’s harder to move and to cut large sheets. Follow this link to see our prices for turf and artificial grass.
Difficulty of installation
Winner: Real grass (much easier)
Artificial grass is slightly more difficult to install than turf due to its heavier materials. This will be reflected in the both the cost of installation and the time it takes.
Cost to maintain
Winner: Artificial grass
Artificial grass needs little to no maintenance over its lifespan. It may need the occasional brush with a stiff broom to fluff up the fibres and level out the underlying sand but that’s about it.
As i’m sure you know, real grass needs regular cutting, weed treatment, and fertilising. Ignore it and it will turn into a jungle.
If you compared the two over 20 years, the cost of real grass in time, effort and money far exceeds the cost of artificial grass. If you value your time, artificial grass may be the sensible choice for long term savings.
There is no one size fits all answer to the question: Should i go with real grass or fake grass?
It depends entirely on your preferences and what you want to get from it or use it for. They can both look equally good although a real lawn is harder to upkeep. Artificial grass will put up with more wear and tear but can’t be fixed it it is damaged. Real grass will last indefinitely but is easier to damage short term.
With foam underlay, artificial grass can feel like a soft mattress and be a joy to use. However, if you are environmentally conscious real grass has many benefits over artificial grass.
When it comes to cost real grass is far cheaper to install but will cost a lot more in the long term. Over a 20 year period its most likely going to be cheaper to go with artificial grass.